For a lot of us, our cars act as reliable companions and help us to get where we need to be. As we approach another cold winter, it is important to consider the effects the weather can have on our vehicles. Follow our checklist below to help keep your car healthy.
1. Replace your Antifreeze.
Water expands when it is frozen, causing potential cracks and leaks in your car’s cooling system. Therefore, it is important to install fresh antifreeze when preparing for the winter.
As well as reducing potential damage, an antifreeze replacement will help your car start up quicker and run more smoothly in winter weather.
2. Check your Battery.
The last thing you want is to have to jump-start your vehicle, especially in winter. Cold weather makes the engine harder to start and puts much more strain on car batteries. Therefore, it is important to ensure your battery won’t stop working when you need it the most.
In order to improve/optimise battery life, you should:
- Keep your battery’s terminals clean and tight. The terminals are a common place for corrosion or buildup. This can stop the battery’s current from effectively reaching the rest of the vehicle. In most instances, the buildup can be scraped away using a screwdriver.
- Use a rag to remove dirt from the casing of your car battery.
- Check the batteries water level is just covering the battery plates (if not a completely sealed battery)
- Make sure the battery clamping brackets are correctly tightened to prevent the battery moving while driving and avoid excessive vibration
- On some batteries, there is a small round viewing window built in the top of the battery. The colour as viewed through this small window should be green (not red).
There is a range of electronic and electrical tests that can be performed on your car’s battery which show its true condition. Please click here for to find out more
3. Check your Charging System.
In winter, there are much more electrical loads on your car’s battery charging system. For example, you use the headlights, heater, front and rear demisters, wipers and other electrical loads far more in winter than any other season. A charging system that is working well in Spring, Summer, or Autumn may struggle in winter to keep up.
Important parts of the charging system to check are the fan/alternator drive belt and its tension. A slightly loose belt may sometimes make a loud “squealing” noise when you rev the engine up from idle. You also need to check the charging voltage at idle and at approximately 2000 rpm with your car’s full electrical loads turned on.
As charging systems age, they may be OK at 2000 rpm, but fail to keep up at idle. This can lead to your car battery going flat while idling in heavy traffic with electrical loads such as the headlights, wipers, demisters, heater on. This, of course, is the worst time to have your car break down.
4. Create a winter survival kit.
Having the right equipment can reduce stress and improve safety in the event of an emergency. Consider having the following items in your vehicle at all times:
- A torch and batteries – A torch can provide improved visibility if you have to leave your car or examine your engine in foggy or dark weather. Don’t rely on your phone’s torch.
- A jumpstarting kit – In the case of your battery goes flat, it is best to be prepared in order to reduce stress.
- A cloth or rag – Cold weather can create frost on your windscreen, decreasing visibility. Bring a rag or cloth to wipe your windscreen.
- A blanket – To keep yourself warm on cold nights in case of breakdowns.
- A cellphone charger – These days, we are lucky to get a day of use out of our mobile phones. It is important that you are able to charge and use your phone in the event of an emergency.
- It is also always useful to have a good quality jack in your vehicle in case you get a flat tyre.
5. If you have a garage, use it.
Our cars are like us; they don’t like freezing weather. For optimum performance, keep your vehicle in a garage or shelter overnight.
Keeping your vehicle warm at night reduces stress on the battery when you start it the next morning. Additionally, it improves fuel consumption (the average car uses 30% more fuel when the engine is cold).
If you do not have access to a garage, be sure to give your vehicle time to properly warm up the next morning. It may also be wise to invest in a thermal cover for your car’s battery.
5. Get your vehicle serviced.
Regular servicing can greatly improve your driving experience, especially in the winter. A mechanic can determine the state of your battery, brakes, lights, wipers and tyres so that you can take preventative measures and keep your vehicle safe.
6. Receive a Winter Safety Check
Winter road conditions are often the worst to drive in. Slippery roads, fog, frosts/ice, driving rain and dark conditions all compile to mean your car needs to be in its best possible condition to keep you and your family and friends (plus other motorists) safe on the roads.
Therefore it is important that you know the true condition of your brakes, suspension, tyres, wipers, headlights, all other lighting and safety related components, We highly recommend you get a winter safety check to keep you and your family safe this winter.
7. Most importantly, drive to the conditions.
Foggy or rainy weather can cause accidents. Therefore, it important to take precautions while driving.
- Take your time. Reduce risk by driving at a safe speed.
- Allow your windscreen to fully clear up before driving.
- Be wary of sudden braking in the rain. The slippery road can cause you to lose traction.
- Be careful of other vehicles. Even if you can see them, they may not be able to see you.
- If in doubt, don’t drive.